Since the beginning of the pandemic in March of 2020, Chuck’s neutral practice has transformed to being entirely online using Zoom. He has held more than 150 Mediations and 25 arbitration proceedings virtually. Chuck schedules the Zoom meetings directly and navigates the technology himself, including moving himself and participants between breakout rooms just as if the proceeding were in person. Chuck prefers the virtual proceedings and believes that the results are not different than in person proceedings. Of course, Chuck will continue to be available for in person proceedings in appropriate cases.
The key to successful online proceedings is to ensure the parties understand the process and the communication is clear on the expectations and the technology. Chuck has developed Online Mediation and Online Arbitration Guidelines. A key example of how to make a Mediation work more smoothly is to estimate carefully the time necessary and operate with courtesy – such as “knocking on the door” by using texting before the Mediator reenters the virtual “Breakout Room.” Another example is to discuss in advance what will happen when there is a technology glitch.